cows

Laws against the sexual assault of animals

2019 U.S. Animal Protection Laws State Rankings

Select an animal law category to view 2019 trends:
2019 Trend Report: Sexual Assault of Animals

2019 Trend Report: Sexual Assault of Animals

Laws against the sexual assault of animals

Laws prohibiting the sexual assault of animals vary widely from state to state. Four states—Hawaii, New Mexico, West Virginia, and Wyoming—still do not have any laws prohibiting the sexual assault of animals. In those states, sexual assault could still be prosecuted as animal cruelty if the animal suffers some physical harm, but that is still grossly insufficient to address the issue.

Even if the state prohibits sexual assault of animals, the laws may be weak. Twelve states have antiquated laws which prohibit vague, undefined crimes such as the “abominable crime against nature.” Not only are such statutes difficult to enforce due to their vagueness, but they are also usually closely tied to unconstitutional sodomy laws.

A growing number of states are updating and strengthening their bestiality laws, bringing them into the 21st century. In 2019 California and Maryland passed bills strengthening their laws addressing the sexual assault of animals. This update was sorely needed in California because a drafting error had caused some courts to find that the only animals who could be victims of sexual assault under the law were those who had previously been abandoned or neglected. Also in 2019, Kentucky enacted a statute banning the sexual assault of animals for the first time ever; that law not only includes thorough definitions, but also addresses related crimes and provides additional sentencing tools.

You Can Protect Animals

Since 1979, the Animal Legal Defense Fund has led the charge to win animals the legal protection they so desperately need—and deserve. Your generous gift will assure that we can continue to take on cases that advance the interests of animals.

Donate